Whether you’re raising money for a community project, a research facility or a local animal shelter, there are a number of tried and tested methods for raising funds... so much so, it can be hard to come up with any original ideas for connecting new people to your cause.
Thankfully, the internet has opened up a wealth of new channels and possibilities for fundraisers.
They key to standing out from the crowd: Keep your online fundraising endeavors both fun and profitable.
Fun ideas like online auctions, hosting webinars and even setting up an e-commerce store work wonders for both organizations and individuals looking to raise money. Here's why.
First, they're relatively low cost, since the entire promotional campaign and "event" is held online. Online fundraising strategies are highly interactive, giving you plenty of trackable data to reveal more about your donors - and what sets you apart from the competition. Finally, new visitors are given a low-impact way to find out more and support your cause.
Here’s 7 surprising, exciting you can make use of online mediums when planning your next fundraising adventure.
Host an online fundraising auction
Online auctions offer a digital take on the traditional auction house event, making it easy and cheaper for guests to attend and take part. You can auction almost anything you want, as long as you approach the right audience for your niche. Online auctions are a proactive way to raise money and get friends and family to rally around your cause.
Online auctions are also scalable. From individual fundraising auctions (like selling belongings on eBay) to priceless travel packages that generate buzz among your bidders, you can scale the online auction to your fundraising goals and needs.
Experiences often generate more of an interest that traditional products, so think outside the box with what you auction – try auctioning off box seats at sporting events, cruises, luxury hotel stays and more.
Get creative and crowdfund
While it’s easy to set up, it can be hard to meet your target unless you market it well, so be sure to do your research into what makes a compelling crowdfunding campaign. It’s also important to spend some time looking into the different crowdfunding websites to see which one will be the best fit for you – and there are plenty out there.
Spend lots of time honing your crowdfunding profile to perfection – this will all help with conversions later. Your messaging is very important, as are the fundraising incentives you offer to persuade supporters to help with the cause.
Finally, remember to engage regularly with your donors along the way.
Share expertise with webinars
If you don’t have something physical to offer in exchange for cash, why not offer your knowledge instead? Almost all of us are experts in something, no matter how small or niche that subject might be.
A high quality webinar demonstrates complex concepts to laypersons in a short period of time, plus gives access to field experts that the public doesn't normally have.
Online webinars are a viable way to raise money and provide ongoing support for your charity. Whatever you know about, whether it’s technology, beauty, cookery or gardening, there are likely people willing to pay for your thoughts. Why not start with a how-to guide?
For more, here’s how to create a successful webinar, plus some examples of our own helpful webinars below.
Embrace e-commerce with an online store
Traditionally people used to hold rummage sales as a way of raising some cash. So why not try the online equivalent? An online store can be created very quickly and easily (even if you’re a beginner) using a good hosted ecommerce platform.
Making sales offers a greater incentive to your patrons than simply handing their money over, since they get something in return (and there are plenty of free trials). Make sure your customers know that the store is there to raise money for charity, so they understand its purpose and what they’re donating to.
- If you don’t feel ready to open an online store of your own, consider using established online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon or Etsy.
- Unless you plan on selling your own wares, drop shipping can be a good option to take care of order fulfilment – sending the product straight from a supplier to the customer.
- Develop a simple brand that will get you recognized and show people what you’re about.
Get interactive with video fundraising
Social media fundraising has the potential to be amazingly lucrative, if you go about it in the right way.
A good example is the ice bucket viral video campaign initiated by an ALS charity. It was just the right level of challenging to inspire people to jump on the bandwagon, and thousands of dollars were generated for ALS as a result. In fact, the donations led to the discovery of a new ALS gene.
Why not come up with your own version of a viral video challenge? Other recent examples include the push-up challenge, the cinnamon challenge and the Harlem Shake. The key is that once the challenge is completed, the participant must nominate others to get the challenge spreading. Videos that are in some way funny or unusual are shared like crazy around social media, so consider the options.
Try using the Venmo app
Venmo describes itself as a free digital wallet. It’s an app that allows you to make and share payments with others – friends, colleagues, whoever – to make the process far quicker and simpler. Have you ever been asked for a donation but not had any spare cash on you? Venmo is the answer.
Twitter has a useful function that shows you who in your contacts is using the Venmo app, so you can approach each person directly with a personal message. Just a couple of dollars per person, and it quickly adds up.
Give supporters the chance to support your cause directly through Venmo. If you host a crowdfunding campaign, Venmo can also be a great tool to simplify the giving process for supporters' friends and family. (Be sure to supply supporters with the wording they need to clearly explain your cause and how donations will be used.)
Venmo is making online fundraising easier every day – check out how nonprofit WATERisLIFE turned $10 into $800 using a viral Venmo campaign.
Make it real by being specific
The art of driving charity donations – whether online or offline – is about realizing the importance of emotional connections. Sometimes, we need to see how our donation is used to really feel like it actually makes a difference.
Charities like Lend With Care understand this principle, which is why their website allows donors to choose who they support. Whether a donor wishes to support a Tunisian goat herder or a market stall seller in New Delhi, each profile comes with a personal backstory, so visitors know exactly where their dollars are going.
How can you create this kind of personalization and emotional connection in your own fundraising campaign? Include testimonials and striking images that feature one person whose life has been changed by your work. Feature statistics prominently in your email newsletters and videos.
As natural storytellers, it is detail and personalization that helps to bring local and global issues to the forefront of our minds.
With the potential to reach such a vast audience, the internet gives us a perfect springboard as fundraisers to generate money online. Don’t be afraid to try new things – there is almost always a way to try something out without too much initial investment. And luckily, there are plenty of online resources available when you’re attempting to create a crowdfunding campaign or host an online auction for the first time.
Embrace every channel and most importantly, have fun with your campaign.
Make it interesting and interactive, and you will draw in visitors from all kinds of places.
Today's post comes to you from Kayleigh Alexandra, Content Marketer & Startup Evangelist.
Passionate about writing for the startup and entrepreneurial audience, Kayleigh works for microstartups.org, an exciting digital project that donates all its profits to charities that help people all over the world.
To stay connceted, follow Microstartups on Twitter.
What are your online fundraising experiences? What did and didn’t work for you? Let us know what you learned in the comments below.